Beautiful or Usable: What’s important while designing your website?

Beautiful or Usable: What’s important while designing your website?Beautiful or Usable: What’s important while designing your website? 3 April, 2014 by Marieke van de Rakt – 14 Comments

In releasing our themes, we got lots of reactions about the aesthetics of our themes. Some people found them plain looking, boring or unappealing. Others were very enthusiastic. Of course, there is no accounting for taste. But it made me wonder, how important are the aesthetics of a website? Does a beautiful site convert better? And what is the relation between aesthetics and usability?

What is beautiful is usable?The halo effect

The halo effect is a cognitive process in which people attribute all kinds of characteristics to a person based on a first impression or one characteristic. The attractiveness or the beauty of a person has been found to produce a halo effect. When you meet someone you find attractive, chances are higher you will think they are nicer and more intelligent than when you meet someone you do not find attractive.

In the literature concerning aesthetics of websites, this halo effect on the base of attractiveness is researched. The theoretical notion in these studies is that as people perceive a website as very beautiful, they will also think that it is very usable.

For a clear (and entertaining) explanation of the halo effect, watch this short video:

A much cited article on the matter is

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